DLUHC's failure to respond on standards 'not good enough'

02 November 2021

The Government’s failure to respond to a report on standards in local government is ‘just not good enough,’ a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life has claimed.

It is nearly three years since the committee published its report on ethics in local government, but there has been no response from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) nor its predecessor, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The report, launched in 2019 called for standards boards to be given more teeth to clamp down on poor conduct.

It claimed boards should have the power to ban councillors for up to six months without allowances, but it ruled out a return to a centralised body to monitor standards.

Speaking after the watchdog launched its latest report on ministerial conduct, committee member Dr Jane Martin told The MJ: ‘It is not good enough that we haven’t had a response so far.

‘We recognise that the Government has had other things to deal with, so it hasn’t exactly been business as usual.’

But as the world gets back to normal she said: ‘We continue to press the Government for a response and we are hoping to meet them by the end of the year.

Dr Martin’s comments followed the publication of the committee’s latest report called for ‘respect’ to be added to the existing Nolan principles for standards in public life, amid the increasing toxicity of debate.

She told The MJ: ‘Central and local government are operating in a more challenging environment. We are aware of the difficulties that can be caused by social media… something must be done to address this.’

But she welcomed the efforts by the Local Government Association and the good practice in many authorities. ‘There is a real willingness out there to try to make changes,’ she said.

The latest report on ministerial conduct called for greater transparency around lobbying and more power to be given to the independent adviser on ministerial standards.

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